The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass… (Rev. 1:1)
The book, called the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to the church in order to reveal ‘things which must shortly come to pass.’
Understanding the fact of where this book gets its title begins to show us the books’ meaning and purpose. The word ‘Revelation’ from the Greek word ‘Appocalypse’ means ‘to unveil.’ So the title of the book could actually be rendered, ‘The unveiling of Jesus Christ.’
A prevalent question in our day is whether we have entered into the ‘end times.’ Technically speaking, the end times began at the first appearing of Christ; he Old Testament prophets spoke of Messiah’s appearance at the ‘last days,’ likewise the New Testament writers affirm that the days after Christ are the ‘last days’:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son… (Heb. 1:1 & 2)
Or, 1 John 2:18
Little children it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
Scripturally speaking, the last time, or the last days are the days between Christ’s coming; His first coming commenced the era which is also called by the prophets: ‘the year of the Lord’s favor,’ or ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’ (Isaiah 61:2; Luke 4:19) – that is: the age of Messiah when ALL who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. The age began at Christ’s first coming, and continues until He returns.
The Revelation, or the unveiling of Jesus Christ has been occuring since His coming; Christ also shared a parable in which He described this age as a singular era from His first coming to His second coming and the final judgment (Matt 13:24-30 interpretted in verses 37-43).
The book of Revelation is not a wholly fulfilled book of prophecy, rather the events described began when God began revealing Christ to mankind at His first coming, and will be fulfilled only after He comes the second time and completes it.
Just as it is written in the book:
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Rev. 1:3)
Just as John the Baptist began to preach ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ (Matt 3:2 – and he was announcing the onset of this era, the begining of the year of the Lord’s favor, for God’s kingdom is yet at hand for them that repent and believe in Christ). The nearness of the kingdom was immediate, it was NOW accessible, and so it is with the Revelation, the time of its fulfillment is at hand NOW during his year of the Lord’s favor, this era in which Christ is being REVEALED [unveiled] to man.
Ths unveiling of Christ is the Gospel exposed.
The first chapter of the book reveals Christ as the King of kings, in fact, as it is said:
…the Prince of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5) i.e. the head Lord.
It also shows this era to be the Church age. Unlike other books of prophecy, it is written not to the nation of Israel, or Hebrews generally, but the Seven Churches of Asia. Likewise, John clarifies specifically throughout the book that the servants of God are those who put faith in Jesus (12:17, 14:12; 17:6; 20:4), as opposed to election or righteousness on the basis of the the nation of Israel, or of the Old Covenant as under the age preceeding Christ’s arrival.
The number seven is representative of completion, and so the seven churches of Asia represent the Universal Church. Likewise, the place, which speaks in the geographic historical sense of Asia minor, which is today the land area occupied by the nation of Turkey. Yet the word Asia in Greek means ‘to rise up,’ or euphamistically ‘sunrise’ which metaphorically speaks of the coming of Christ, both in the sense that the sun rises from the east, and the prophetic direction of the coming Messiah was from the east (the temple in Jerusalem reserved the eastern gate for the Messiah, and indeed when Christ rode into Jerusalem from as the Messiah, He came from the east – from the town of Bethany), and also that Jesus is called prophetically the ‘morning star’ (an epithet for the rising sun) even in the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:16).
Thus the place, Asia being the land of the east and also the place of the sun-rising represents the children of Christ, which is the Church.
Christ is revealed in the first chapter as being He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, and walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. This mystery is declared by Christ in the last verse of the first chapter, but has far more relevance than may tend to lay to it. We tend to assume he is speaking merely in the context of what John has seen already; in fact, I believe some translations render the wording: ‘the mystery of the seven stars and of the seven golden lampstands is this:’ or along those lines rather than:
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter;
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Rev. 1:19 & 20)
John is supposed to write the things which he was seeing, had seen, and would see: the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks. The mystery is greater than a simple explanation of the vision John had seen where Christ stood in the midst of the churches, in fact the central narrative of the writing to the churches would more fully unveil this mystery.
The book begins with Christ as King of kings shining like the radiance of the sun (Rev. 1:16b) in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (the one complete Church), and ends with New Jerusalem – the Church coming down from heaven as a bride, and Christ in her midst as the temple, and lighting the city as the sun (Rev. 21:22 & 23).
A contemporary assumption of the book is that it speaks of events in the nation of Israel, and earthly Jerusalem, however, while the word ‘Jerusalem’ is used three times in the book, each usage refers not to earthly Jerusalem, but to heavenly Jerusalem. Thus, again, revealing that the Revelation speaks of the age of Messiah, the church age and not an age of the Old Covenant which bore types and shadows of Christ and the Church.
According to the New Testament, a temple building in Jerusalem is not the place of God’s habitation where His worshippers are to find him (John 4:21 & 24). Indeed, according to Christ, He Himself – and His body (the Church) is the temple (John 2:18-21) and Paul also affirms this consistently:
But Christ being come… by a greater and more perfect tabernacle [or, temple], not made with hands, that is to say not of this building.
Hebrews 12:18, 22-24
18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
In other words, you are not come to an earthly typology of the kingdom of God (as the nation of Israel was in old times), but to he real spiritual kingdom of God, the Church in covenant with Jesus Christ. The temple of the New Testament is YOU (if ye be in Christ), and as expressly stated in Hebrews 9:11 NOT AN EARTHLY BUILDING.
Many in our day are in a state of wondering whether we are in the last days. Biblically speaking, we are; we are living in the church age, the year of the Lord’s favor when all who call on Him (Christ: the bright morning star) shall be saved. Once this age is complete the seven golden candlesticks: New Jerusalem will also be complete, and reign as kings and priests with Christ (Rev. 1:6 & 2:26 & 27).
The point of conflict that we await before the resurrection of the dead begins with what Christ called ‘The abomination of desolation. This is the starting point of what most are actually looking for when they ask if we are in the end times; the abomination of desolation begins what Christ called not the ‘last days,’ but ‘the time of the end.’
What is the Abomination of Desolation? The desolation is a great falling away in the church when the antichrist will sit enthroned in the hearts of many [former] Christians (YE are the temple of God). It is an abomination which makes ‘desolate’ i.e. it will make desolation in the Church:
2 Thess. 2:2 & 3
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
But if the desolation is a falling away… how can it be a visible sign as Jesus indicated in Matthew 24:15?
In fact, the Abomination will be a visible sign. Remeber the New Testament temple is the church, ethereal, not a building, physical. In Revelation 13, the false prophet is said to erect an image (physical) unto the beast from the sea, and will have power to give life to the image (in Greek its literally ‘spirit;’ ‘pneuma’ that he gives to he image). The image is a physical construction made to the beast (the antichrist kingdom): idolatry. Yet it will be an idolatry which many in the church are decieved by.
The abomination is a physical, visible sign, the sign of idolatry, and that idolatry will fill the hearts of many Christians, fulfilling three prophecies at once 1) the prophecy that it will be a visible sign, and 2) that it will be a true spiritual abomination, which causes desolation (utter spiritual death) in the temple of God (which temple ye are); 3) that there be a falling away as the man of lawlessness is revealed.
But how will Christians really be decieved into this idolatry? That doesn’t seem terribly believable, but Paul also describes (in part) how this will happen:
2 Thess. 2:9-12
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The principal thing is love of Truth; only those with the utmost love of Truth will be spared. God will send a strong delusion upon them.
So, let’s look at this passage about signs of the end… delusion. Many American Christians seem to be wondering prevalently about the end, and the rapture because of the political turn in the United States. Is that a sign of the end? One could argue it is, but in fact a more clear sign of the end would be he prevalence of false prophets, and false Messiahs. Jesus declared false prophets, and false Christs; the apostles also declared this, and as according to the passage from 2 Thessalonians specifically, it is said there will be a falling away, and a strong delusion.
Were you around for the widespread false prophecies that Donald Trump would be in office for this second term? Yes, I know that they are now making ‘prophetic’ reasons why it didn’t happen rather than repenting, but more than the left taking the political dominance, the widespread false prophecy is a greater indicator of last days than the political shift. Ministers all over the country (all over the world) prophesied falsely, and the church seems to be ok with it. Why? …because they recieved not the love of the truth…
There is a [apparently still] growing movement in the church whose zeal for signs and wonders outdoes their love of Truth. Does that mean the abomination will rise right away? (There are many, even in the church who are working toward getting it made.) It does mean that the prophecies are coming to pass before our eyes as foretold, and that some are already decieved.
The Revelation is applicable to us now, and foretells things which ‘must shortly come to pass,’ for the words of the prophecy are, indeed at hand in our age. Christ’s message to the church in Sardis is applicable:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which are ready to die… (Rev. 3:2a)
Likewise, the words of Christ to John:
Fear not, I am the first and the last. I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and death. (Rev. 1: 17 & 18)